The beloved YA author is resurrecting Sephy Hadley in a new novel – and it’s inspired by Brexit and Trump.
Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses series was one of the Noughties’ most popular British YA fiction franchises. Set in a parallel world in which people of European descent (‘noughts’) had historically been enslaved by people from Africa (‘crosses’), the books told the entwined stories of Sephy Hadley and Callum McGregor. Sephy is black, the privileged daughter of a prominent politician. Callum is white, and – like many noughts – experiences brutal discrimination and lack of opportunity as a result of his race and class.
For many children and teenagers growing up in the first decade of the 21st century, the Noughts & Crosses novels offered a way to think and talk about race and class through the lens of fiction. It was a period in British history when the prevailing liberal narrative was that the colour of someone’s skin was completely irrelevant – a well-meaning but misguided trope that denied the very real existence and impact of racism. By reading Blackman’s books, young people were invited to consider how racism and classism operated in their own worlds.
Crossfire will feature the established characters of Sephy, her daughter Callie-Rose and Callie-Rose’s friend (and one-time boyfriend) Tobey. Explaining why she decided to write another Noughts & Crosses book, Blackman said the current political climate had sparked her imagination.
“The previous books in the Noughts & Crosses series were inspired by and written in reply to contemporary events,” she said. “Crossfire is no different. I wanted to write a book that turned the spotlight on not just elections and politics but the pursuit of power.”
As well as Sephy, Callie-Rose and Tobey, Crossfire will also tell the story of two new teenage protagonists named Libby and Troy, Blackman said.
She added that she was “thrilled to be revisiting the Noughts & Crosses world again”.
The Noughts & Crosses series has sold more than 1.7 million copies in the UK and around the world, according to The Bookseller. The first book in the series was adapted for the stage by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2008, and the BBC commissioned a six-part TV series based on the novel in 2016.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Being Human creator and writer Toby Whitehouse had been hired to oversee the script for the BBC’s Noughts & Crosses adaptation, with filming expected to begin later in 2018.
In addition to writing Crossfire, Blackman – who was appointed an OBE in 2008 and made Children’s Laureate in 2013 – has also been hard at work on the new series of Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker. The author has penned an episode for Whittaker’s Doctor, to be aired in 2019.
“I’ve always loved Doctor Who,” Blackman said in August, when the news of her role in the show was announced. “Getting the chance to write for this series has definitely been a dream come true.”
An episode of Doctor Who and a new Noughts & Crosses novel: it looks like 2019 is set to be the year of Malorie Blackman. And frankly, we can’t wait.
Images: Getty Images / Tom Van Schelven for Stylist